Lance Preston and the crew of “Grave Encounters”, a ghost-hunting reality television show, are shooting an episode inside the abandoned Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital, where unexplained phenomena has been reported for years. All in the name of good television, they voluntarily lock themselves inside the building for the night and begin a paranormal investigation, capturing everything on camera. They quickly realize that the building is more than just haunted – it is alive – and it has no intention of ever letting them leave. They find themselves lost in a labyrinth maze of endless hallways and corridors, terrorized by the ghosts of the former patients. (From the Movie’s Official Site).
What is there to say about this movie? Other than the fact that this is what I have wanted to happen to the people on Ghost Hunters, Paranormal States, and Ghost Adventures ever since the craze for reality ghost hunting shows started? Ghost hunters go into a haunted house and irritate the ghosts so bad that they all suffer for it. I absolutely enjoyed and loved this movie.
Here’s the setting for the ghost hunt: Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital. Here’s how the film’s website describes the hospital:
Between 1895 and 1960 Maryland’s Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital was home to over 80,000 of Maryland’s mentally ill and disturbed individuals. Throughout its troubled history it was known as a dumping ground for patients with severe disorders. Collingwood became infamous for unusual experimental patient control techniques including shock therapy, lobotomies, and sensory deprivation. By 1930 Collingwood had performed more lobotomies than any other facility in the country. After it’s closure in 1963 reports of ghostly apparitions and objects moving on their own and sometimes even lunatic laughter were reported. A series of disappearances and unfortunate accidents are associated with the the building. Today Collingwood is empty and abandoned, with most locals scared to enter the 80 acre facility.
The group is headed by a guy (who must have analyzed Zak Bagans of Ghost Adventures) who pushes his team of investigators and a “psychic” medium to conduct a lock-in (familiar, right?) in an abandoned hospital. The group is made up of 2 investigators, a tech specialist, a psychic, and a cameraman. Each present their own quantities of obnoxious behaviors, especially the lead investigator and the psychic who both are completely open with the fact that what they are doing is fake. At least, they believe it is fake until things really start manifesting. It almost seemed like the spirits were toying with them, up to a point. Then, the attacks began, ranging from hair being pulled, pushes down stairs, psychic wounds, and then increasingly violent actions.
Are all of the effects of the ghosts perfect? No. There are some definite obvious effects, but by utilizing green lighting and the play of shadowed rooms, the more obvious issues were easy to look past. With the use of green lights, night vision, and “things hiding in the shadows”, the crew creates a truly creepy film that had me a bundle of nerves throughout the film. Even the bitchiness of the team only helped to accent the feelings of the team while locked inside the hospital.
Why do I love this movie? After being bombarded by a plethora of ghost hunting and truthseeking reality television shows, it was really entertaining to see a group of ghost seekers to meet with ghosts who are antagonized and violently reactive to the people who have disturbed their rest. The movies makes me think of Rose Red with the house itself being personified as a living thing that is intent on keeping the crew trapped inside. I have always wanted to see paranormal investigators getting absolutely schooled by the undead or the otherworldly.
Directed by the Vicious Brothers (25-year-old filmmakers Stuart Ortiz and Colin Miniham), 2011’s Grave Encounters stars Sean Rogerson, Juan Riedinger, Ashleigh Gryzko, Mackenzie Gray, and Merwin Mondesir. The film is a Canadian/American venture that is in the horror found footage genre. While some of the ground is quite familiar, the direct attempt to mimic current television shows was very effective and entertaining.
I recommend this movie to everyone who is into reality ghost hunting shows, ghost based horror movies, and just curious horror fans in general. I really think you will be happily surprised by this low budget (fell under half a million) film that gives us what we all want: an original ghost story that pushes the bounds of what is expected or normal. Maybe it’s the lead’s attempt to act so much like Zak Bagans, I think this movie was so much more enjoyable to me since I am a Ghost Adventures fan and I would love to see the guys on that show meet up with physical apparations.
Take a look at the trailer below and please let me know what you think!